#CreatureFeature – Cercartetus concinnus (Western Pygmy Possum)

The western pygmy possum can be defined by its bright cinnamon colour, which sets it apart from its grey relatives.

Their ears and eyes are large, and their tail is long and covered with fine scales rather than fur. Their hind feet are made of broad toe pads and opposable first digits. Adult pygmy possums can weigh from 8 – 21 grams, making them one of the larger possum breeds.

Habitat loss and lack of food have contributed to the species’ vulnerability, which is listed as endangered in New South Wales. They can also be found in southwestern WA, wheatbelt areas of South Australia, Kangaroo Island and as far east as Victoria. Semi-arid woodland and shrubland dominated by bottle brushes, melaleuca, banksia and grevillea are the most desirable habitats for these furry little friends.

A diet of nectar, pollen and insects see this possum travelling mostly at night, usually alone. However, being nocturnal means sharing the night with predators like quolls, snakes, owls, foxes and cats.

Western pygmy possums can conserve energy and food by entering torpor when the weather becomes colder. They sleep on their bellies with their ears folded over their eyes and their tails folded underneath their bodies.

Throughout the year, pygmy possums can breed and give birth to litters of four to six offspring. The female has a front-opening pouch with six teets and will carry her young for much of their early lives with them attached to a teet each.

Offspring are born blind and leave the pouch around 25 days of age, becoming fully weaned at 50 days. Females will reach sexual maturity at 12 to 15 months of age.

Source: https://bie.ala.org.au/species/urn:lsid:biodiversity.org.au:afd.taxon:20cf2b3c-3f38-4110-8c9f-32da03484256

Jarna Kendle – Bushcare Officer

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